A Cambridgeshire council argues they have ‘no genuine rough sleepers’ in their area as England’s smallest city experiences increase in begging.
The Cambridgeshire city of Ely, which only has a population of 20,000, has reportedly experienced a large increase in begging from people who appear to be homeless.
Angela Parmenter, housing and community safety manager at East Cambridgeshire District Council, says her team search Ely city centre daily to help rough sleepers.
She says there are ‘no genuine rough sleepers in East Cambs’.
‘We are aware of people begging in Ely city centre,’ says Ms Parmenter.
‘Unfortunately, we cannot make any individual engage with us or accept any accommodation that has been offered. However, we will always continue to try.
‘Officers have been out every day since Thursday and spoken to three people who appear to be homeless.
‘All three have again been offered emergency accommodation but all three have refused and have stated that they are not actually sleeping rough.’
'Cambridgeshire Constabulary is always sympathetic towards vulnerable people in hardship,' said a spokesperson for the police.
'We praise the excellent work of East Cambs District Council, who’s housing team seek out and speak to anyone who begs for money on the streets of Ely.
'They have done a superb job of getting people into warm long term accommodation, and this is crucial with the current dangers of cold weather.
'There is no complacency on this issue and we cannot speak about the significant problem of homelessness nationally.
'We always advise people who wish to help, to donate to reputable charities, or to give food or warm drinks instead of money.'